Natalie Mena, LCSW-R
I was born and raised in the Boogie Down Bronx (New York City). I was raised with a group of strong women who knew how to strive for excellence even when we did not have it all. My mother is Puerto Rican (Nuyo Rican) and my father was born in the Dominican Republic. I’m considered mixed with the best of both worlds.
I attended Binghamton University and majored in Human Development. I graduated in 2008. Going away to college and completing my Bachelor’s degree taught me that there was much more to life than NYC. This helped me set higher expectations for myself in the long run and in my professional career. I received my Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University in 2011. Attending Columbia University taught me how to face adversity and succeed in a setting that traditionally didn’t accept students such as myself.
I became a social worker to help make a difference in the world. My experiences growing up shaped me to want to help others and provide an opportunity for them to see their full potential. Sometimes all someone really needs is one person to spark hope in their life and I aspire to light that flame for others who are trying to find the light when in the dark. Besides providing therapy with Therapists For Black Girls, I currently work for a psychiatric hospital as a therapist. I have worked for a nonprofit organization working with families and children as well. I have experience working with teens and young adults along with individuals with severe mental illness (SMI).
I care greatly about working with people of color because there aren’t many of us we can relate to when it comes to therapy and mental health. Understanding one’s point of view and providing a sense of familiarity with those who are hesitant in seeking help is why I seek to work with communities of color. To help build confidence and spark change for a better tomorrow.
As a Latina woman from the Bronx, I experienced racism mainly from my peers and professionals in educational settings. I remember being questioned about my intelligence and how I got accepted to both Binghamton University and Columbia University. Taking in such criticism, I remember staying quiet and thinking “I cannot believe this is happening to me”. I did not react because I did not know how to react. I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have spoken up for myself.
My clinical approach is varied depending on the client. I have been trained and used cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, client-centered approach, and trauma-informed care. My clients experience me as caring and empathic. I am known to go above and beyond for my clients in order to help them to reach their goals in life. I’m straight forward and embrace conversations where it can be challenging yet rewarding in the end.
Music is therapy for my soul. I enjoy dancing, cooking, and spending time with my family and loved ones. I love to travel and learn new things. I come from a large family of 6 sisters and 2 brothers.